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Harlequin

Thursday News: Amazon weighs in on ebook pricing, sale of Harlequin nearly complete, OkCupid lies to daters, and Turkish women are defiantly laughing

Thursday News: Amazon weighs in on ebook pricing, sale of Harlequin...

Keep in mind that books don’t just compete against books. Books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

So, at $9.99, the total pie is bigger – how does Amazon propose to share that revenue pie? We believe 35% should go to the author, 35% to the publisher and 30% to Amazon. Is 30% reasonable? Yes. In fact, the 30% share of total revenue is what Hachette forced us to take in 2010 when they illegally colluded with their competitors to raise e-book prices. We had no problem with the 30% — we did have a big problem with the price increases. –The Digital Reader and Amazon

With Harlequin’s sale to HarperCollins expected to be completed before the end of the week, the publisher’s parent company, Torstar, reported that sales for the second quarter ended June 30, 2014 fell C$6.4 million to C$96.4 million and net income dropped to C$1.6 million from C$5.6 million in last year’s second quarter. The revenue decline was attributed primarily to lower sales in North America. –Publishers Weekly

On Monday, President Christian Rudder disclosed in a blog post that OkCupid had conducted experiments on its users, including a test to see whether its assessment of their matchability led to successful dating.

“To test this, we took pairs of bad matches … and told them they were exceptionally good for each other,” Rudder wrote. “When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other.” 

OkCupid’s actions, at least four legal experts said, appear to be in violation of a provision in the FTC act that prohibits “unfair and deceptive” practices by a company that result in misleading or harming consumers. –Huffington Post and Reuters

Bülent Ar?nç said during an end of Ramadan speech that women should not laugh in public or talk about “unnecessary” things on the phone. He made these oddly specific demands as he seemed to yearn for a simpler time when Turkish women were more repressed.

“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he asked, complaining of what he saw as the moral decline of Turkish society. –Global Post

Wednesday News: Amazon in talks with Simon & Schuster, more on Amazon’s possible ambitions, Harlequin as case study, and beachside libraries

Wednesday News: Amazon in talks with Simon & Schuster, more on...

Amazon in Talks with Simon & Schuster – Acquisition? – Several outlets have reported that Amazon is in negotiations with Simon & Schuster, although the content of the talks is currently unknown. Confirmation of the talks came from Les Moonves himself, president of CBS, which owns Simon & Schuster, and Reuters has a link to the talk in which Moonves made the comment. Nate Hoffelder floats the possibility of Amazon attempting to acquire S&S, rather than merely engaging in early contract talks:

That is a crazy idea, yes, but hear me out. Before you send for the trank guns, just remember that in the past 6 months I accurately called the Dropbox-Readmill deal, the Comixology acquisition, and the Nook Media spin off.
. . .
To put it simply, Simon & Schuster is the smallest of the Big 5, and there’s no real connection between it and its parent company – not like there is for the 4 other major US trade publishers.

With $800 million in revenue in 2013, S&S is the smallest of the major US trade publishers (in terms of revenue). It is a wholly owned sub of CBS, a $15 billion a year company with operations mainly in the US. –The Digital Reader

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed – I’m not sure how many more angles there are to the Amazon-Hachette battle to investigate, but you know the media outlets will keep trying. This piece from the New York Times has a couple interesting features, including a discussion of the extent to which Amazon has been working with academic publishers, as well as their push for POD rights when a book is not immediately available for shipment.

Academic houses traditionally sell their books, which are labor-intensive and printed in small quantities, for smaller discounts than general publishers do. Amazon will have none of that. “I offered them a 30 percent discount, and they demanded 40,” said Karen Christensen of Berkshire Publishing, a small academic house in Great Barrington, Mass.

Amazon, as usual, got what it wanted. Then it asked for 45 percent.

“Where do I find that 5 percent?” Ms. Christensen asked. “Amazon may be able to operate at a loss, but I’m not in a position to do that.”

Ms. Christensen, like other publishers, complains that Amazon is very inventive with fees and charges that rapidly add up.

But at the same time, Amazon has made itself essential to Berkshire, which publishes a three-volume dictionary of Chinese biography that sells for $595. Amazon is responsible for about 15 percent of Berkshire’s business. Ms. Christensen feels that she can’t leave Amazon but fears what else it might ask. “I wake up every single day knowing Amazon might make new, impossible demands,” she said.

Amazon has been reported to be seeking a new concession from publishers: If a customer orders a book and it is not immediately available, it wants the right to print the volume itself. An Amazon spokesman said it does not compel publishers to use the technology but offers it as a service. The customer wants the book immediately, so this makes obvious sense. But it chips away yet again at the publisher’s role. –New York Times

The evolution of the Harlequin case: Assessing e-book opportunities – Although not as detailed as I had hoped, this video on Harlequin as a case study project for graduate students at Western University’s Ivey Business School (Canada) is still interesting, in part because of the way Harlequin executives engaged with the students and their ideas about how Harlequin should manage their digital publishing opportunities. It’s a relatively short video, and I haven’t looked to see if some of the projects are available online, but it would be interesting to see what the students came up with in more detail. –Ivey Business School

Beachfront Libraries Are Pretty Much The Best Idea Ever – I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here on the West Coast of the US. it’s freaking hot. Which gives way to thoughts of the beach, and of the soothing sound of the ocean (gee, do you think I might need a vacation?!). I have yet to see a beachside library out here, but what a brilliant idea. Check out some of the locations – outside of getting sand in the books, it seems like a pretty ingenuous use for paper books.

Pop-up libraries are a growing trend at beaches around the world, according to Atlas Obscura. In May, Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort, Albena, reopened its beach library for the second summer in a row. The library houses more than 6,000 books. –Huffington Post